Coronavirus Updates

What kind of world did I just wake up to?

Jonathan Cho // February 8, 2020, 6:32 pm

Another day of panic buying in Singapore

I woke up this morning to a barrage of WhatsApp messages with photos, texts, memes and even some unkind, mocking comments about panic-buying at the supermarkets. I didn’t think too much of it initially, but somehow felt a lingering sense of discomfort from what I had seen in our responses.

Was it just the dissonance of seeing mass panic hitting so close to home? Or witnessing selfishness and self-preservation operating in their fullest form?

Truth be told, I was among the first few to go into panic mode when news of “DORSCON Orange” emerged. What should we do? Can we go out? Do we need to buy anything, just in case?

Just days ago, as reports of the novel coronavirus were multiplying, my wife and I were awaiting the arrival of our second child in the hospital (of all places to be at the time!). What kind of world would we be welcoming this little child into?

Having the peace of God and keeping calm brought some assurance, but I sensed the Spirit prompting me to go a little further. “What is it God?”, I silently asked. “What is it that You see, and that You want us to perceive in all this?”

Why panic-buy when you can have peace instead?

It isn’t unexpected that the apocalyptic nature of this pandemic has driven many into fear, revealing our underlying human condition – the deep need of the human soul for an anchor and rootedness amid panic; a sense of “salvation” or deliverance from something that is clearly beyond us; and the widespread grasping for something that will bring us comfort and security.

And so we grab. We stockpile. We hoard. We clear out supermarkets to fill our carts with food and supplies, or anything else that we think might give us some semblance of that peace we’re seeking.

But what if this might also be at the expense of some fellow citizens?

Even as we take and buy, do we buy just enough to meet our needs? Or is it our intention to grab for more than what we really need, just in case? And what about those who have limited access to such items to begin with? What happens to their already depleted supply and provisions?

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Trust me when I say that these moments of panic and self-preservation are not beyond me. I wrestle with the deep desire to protect and provide for my family too. And yet, the truth is that it is often the fastest and the richest who get priority.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s my problem if someone else might not have rice, as long as my family has enough”.

Might this be what we’re really thinking or believing in the hidden corners of our heart?

There is really nothing wrong with protecting or providing for the ones we love, but what is it undergirded by? What has this panic revealed to us about our true heart condition as followers of Jesus?

Have we also gone with the flow of panic-stocking, or did we just carry on with life in assurance that “we have salvation and peace”, while quietly mocking the overreaction of others? Either way the responses seem to raise important questions for us to confront as disciples of a God-incarnate who reached out to hold even the hands of the lepers.

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When Jesus returns and the day of judgment comes, and where what is at stake is not just our health but also our souls, will we go into panic mode in trying to preserve only our own souls?

Will we be content in our comfortable Christian lives with the knowledge that “we have already been saved” and “know Jesus”? Or will we be thinking of those who have not heard or received, nor seen or tasted of the soul-keeping, peace-ensuring message of the Kingdom of God?

What is of ultimate importance to us as a people who take Jesus at His Word, for all that He has told us about our lives, the future and His coming Kingdom? What are we truly living for at the end of the day when we contemplate life as we know it?

In the Kingdom of God, there are no panic buys and there are no stocks running out.

As I thought about the life of my own child, I was reminded that we have not just welcomed a new life into this broken and groaning physical world, but also a soul that will go on to live forever. And as we’ve learnt on this Christian journey, a soul can choose to exist with or without God for the rest of eternity.

If the story of this life involves us being born into a world where our greatest concern involves the prolonging and preservation of life for as long as possible, then may we be reminded that this is perhaps “a fool’s errand”, as one author writes.

Friends, our hearts’ deepest responses in this season is an honest reflection of what we truly believe about the meaning of our lives and our time on this earth. The story we live in determines the story we live out.

And if our story involves us ensuring our own security, our own peace and our own place in the Kingdom of God, then perhaps we have totally misunderstood the heart of Jesus when He promised that He was going ahead to prepare a room for us in His Father’s house. For it isn’t just about us being assured of the fact that we have been secured a room, but also a reflection of Jesus’ desire to see all the rooms He has prepared being filled to the brim.

In the Kingdom of God, there are no panic buys and there are no stocks running out – there’s always an unlimited supply. That is the real thing whose “viral quality” is truly worth being shared many times over.

THINK + TALK 

  1. How does the knowledge of Jesus’ second coming impact the way you view your life?
  2. Do you think you would go into panic mode when Jesus returns and the day of judgment comes?
  3. How can you share the peace-ensuring message of the Kingdom of God with someone today?